Salting highways, roads, and streets is done to make driving simpler during the winter months. The downside to road salting is the salt spray that can cause damage to broadleaf and evergreen trees and shrubs and even the lawn.

Proper tree and shrub placement is necessary to avoid this perennial problem. Along Big Bend across the street from Meramec Community College, a homeowner has struggled to retain a row of arborvitaes. Its simply an impossible task. The salt is usually not being spread by the salt trucks that far but the traffic and wind causes the water to splash up into the beds causing the plant failures.

Salt injury symptoms appear often times much later in the year as abnormally early fall color, needle tip burn, browning of the leafs that progresses to the central main vein, and witches broom (tufts of twig growth) symptoms. In well established residential areas, use course sand for de-icing sidewalks instead of salt. Protect plants with barriers made from plastic or burlap prior to the ground freezing.

Another great tip for reducing the amount of salt injury to the turf is to apply gypsum in early November at a rate of 50# per thousand square feet. It should be applied to any areas where there is a potential for drift or runoff from the street or even your own driveway. This will effectively neutralize the damaging effects of the salt plus the added benefit of reducing the clay content.